By Dan Wheeler, Teacher Del Valle High School
I just wrapped up my third year of taking students from Del Valle High School to SXSWEdu as part of Compass Learning’s student blogger program. Without a doubt, it is my favorite moment of each school year! As a teacher, I love seeing the transformation of my students over a four day period. Very few students get such a unique opportunity to witness the “behind-the-scenes” of education and to be surrounded by professionals, educators, entrepreneurs, administrators, and researchers who all come together to discuss, brainstorm, and imagine the future of education.
The “system” of education is something many students don’t often think critically about, but they feel their frustrations with it on a gut level. When my students see that there’s actually so much energy, time, passion, money, and brainpower that goes into creating this “system” they find themselves in, it is eye-opening for them and without a doubt one of the most educational experiences they’ll ever have. They grow more mature, they start to question and reflect on their own schooling, and they get excited by the hope and possibility for significant changes and advances in how we “do” school. They feel less like a small, benign part of a machine, and more like THE critical voice in a loud, diverse, and boisterous community that is ever striving to improve.
It’s because of this transformation that I wish more students could be a part of SXSWEdu. They are the most critical voice in this community, and yet they are sorely misrepresented at the conference, and too often our education system is shaped without their critical input. I want to thank Compass Learning for being trailblazers when it comes to extending opportunities for students to attend SXSWEdu and more than anything listening to what it is they are seeing, hearing, and thinking. The student perspective is the most important perspective and that is why we need more students at SXSWEdu